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Official Husker Locker Blog

2011 Jun 03

NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Key Husker Matchups vs. Wisconsin Badgers


By HuskerLocker

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By Brandon Cavanaugh

Despite the loss of several members of a very dominant squad, the Badgers are going to have a very hostile environment behind them in Madison. If Nebraska wants to walk out of Camp Randall Stadium with a victory, they’re going to need to play as close to perfect as is humanly possible.

Wisconsin’s Key Threats:

RB Monte Ball
RB James White
WR Nick Toon
DT Jordan Kohout
DT Patrick Butrym
CB Antonio Fenelus

The problems:

Ball and White are the most dangerous threats to Nebraska’s defense as they will be the first Big Ten power game that the Cornhuskers will face as a member of the conference. Nebraska struggled at times versus the inside run last season, so Bell and White may be able to bust the game wide open if the Cornhuskers can’t tighten the screws.

Toon is likely going to be the Badgers’ best receiving threat and if Nebraska needs to clamp down on any receiver, he’s the guy. He was second only to St. Louis Rams 2011 second round draft pick Lance Kendricks in terms of production last year. Toon checked in with 36 catches for 459 yards (12.75 YPC) and three touchdowns in 2010.

Defensive tackles Kohout and Butrym are going to be one of the most difficult inside defensive combos that Nebraska is going to face all season. The Cornhuskers are going to get a very good look at just how their offensive line can open lanes for both quarterbacks and running backs to find room to accelerate. A big problem arises if Wisky is able to stretch out too many running plays.

Cornerback Antonio Fenelus looks to be the worst enemy for Nebraska’s passing attack. No matter who takes snaps for the Cornhuskers, there are question marks surrounding overall accuracy. Fenelus’ ability is capable of picking apart a quarterback’s confidence. A well-rounded defender, he tallied 56 tackles (43 solo), four interceptions, seven pass breakups, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries in 2010.

The Solutions:

Ball/White: This is where MIKE linebacker Will Compton may be able to make a new living aiding defensive tackles by plugging up the middle thanks to his size. If Wisky’s running backs can be forced to run sideline-to-sideline, while their power will remain it gives faster linebackers like Lavonte David or a very physical safety such as Courtney Osborne an opportunity to clean up the play.

Toon: If there’s one thing that Nebraska isn’t concerned about, it’s pass defense and while Toon is likely to be the Badgers’ top receiver at least initially, he’s going up against one of the best secondaries in the nation. Regardless of if he draws Alfonzo Dennard or Ciante Evans, he’s going to have his hands full and likely not because he’s cradling a football.

Kohout/Butrym: These two are somewhat lighter than your typical defensive tackle at 285 pounds, but that’s going to afford them a bit more speed. Nebraska’s attack will attempt to wear them down with a bruising running game. If the pocket holds and the Husker quarterback can make proper reads or take off when necessary, the Badger duo could find themselves gassed. This is when Nebraska busts out Aaron Green or Ameer Abdullah to take off if they can get past the line.

Fenelus: He’s going to be one of the most difficult challenges and taking him out of the game is going to require some excellent blocking on running plays coupled with a passing game that’s found a groove. If Nebraska’s quarterback is struggling or wide receivers aren’t running crisp routes, Fenelus is going to take advantage. If he can be knocked on his butt by the Cornhuskers’ blocking, he might become a non-issue. Unfortunately, Nebraska can only do so much to ensure Fenelus won’t spoil their trip to Madison.

Other teams: Michigan, Penn State

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Tags: monte ball, james white, nick toon, jordan kohout, patrick butrym, antonio fenelus, jared crick, lavonte david, alfonzo dennard, ciante evans, courtney osborne, aaron green, ameer abdullah

Comments (1)

Profile image for huskermaniac28Locker Pass member

Fantastic analysis. Fenelus can't cover everyone, and if Rich Fisher can develop some solid complementary receivers to Brandon Kinnie, the Huskers could make Fenelus a non-factor by simply avoiding him.

– Jun 3, 2011 at 4:45 pm

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